Oriental Rug Buying Guide
Persian and Oriental Rug Buying Guide
1 - Wool Quality
2 - DyesThe second factor (some would argue the most important) is the quality of the dyestuffs used. Prior to the middle of the last century, all dyes were "natural"; that is they were obtained from vegetable matter (and occasionally insects). The first synthetic aniline dyes to appear were of poor quality; they ran or faded or changed colour when exposed to light over a period of time. Most of these problems have been eliminated in modern "chrome" dyes if they are properly prepared. The advantage of modern dyes is also their primary disadvantage; being too colour fast does not allow the dyes to mellow naturally with time and use. Natural dyes are still in use, especially in Turkey and Iran. They are sought after as they age well, producing glorious, jewel-like colours with use. In the store, examine the rug carefully. Examine the roots and knots. Is there a deeper colour at the root? This might indicate that the dye is fugitive to light. If the entire rug is lighter on the pile side than on the back, this normally indicates that the rug has been chemically washed (bleached). A light washing is normal and not detrimental, but harsher bleaching can damage the fibres and reduce the longevity of the rug. Look at the pattern where light and dark colours meet. Have the darker dyes run? If there is a solid field of a single colour, surprisingly, a completely uniform field is a negative feature. Look for some "Abrash" or slight colour variation. This adds depth, contributes to the "hand-woven" nature and usually indicates that the wool has been hand-spun and hand-dyed. Some otherwise nice rugs are spoiled by the addition of garish or inharmonious colours; a "hot" synthetic orange is a principal offender, which unfortunately does not mellow with age.
3 - Construction
•Knot count has more to do with the type of design than quality per se. A geometric design does not require as high a pattern resolution as a floral, curvilinear design. A floral design may not look right with 100 knots per square inch, while this may be perfect for a geometric rug of tribal village origins. Ask yourself whether the design looks right or clumsy. •Knot count ranges are specific to types of rugs. A Persian Heriz would typically have a coarse to medium weave (75-100 knots per square inch). Despite low knot count, Heriz rugs are sought after as treasured antiques. •The quality of the wool is more important than the knot count in determining durability. A coarsely woven rug with good wool will be far superior to a finer woven rug with poor quality wool. A chunky knot sweater does not wear faster than a fine knit cardigan. •Knot count is more of a consideration when buying "programmed lines" of rugs. These are mass produced rugs (mainly from India) with a set pattern made in a standard range of sizes (4x6, 6x9, 8x10, etc.) These rugs are very different from one-of-a-kind pieces which are the product of the individual weaver's heritage, creativity, and skill. •In general, the number of knots in a rug represents the amount of labour that has gone into it. If you are interested only in the amount of labour rather than the quality of materials, authenticity of design and overall aesthetic appeal, then knot count is important. Otherwise ... NOT!
Hopefully, this Oriental Rug Buying Guide will help you make a wise purchase. If you have any questions then please contact Rug District and one of our Oriental Rug Experts would love to help you.
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- Tanya Shea